July 13, 2015

PCOS and Yasmin


A picture of a tattooed woman holding a Peony flower with arm outstretched

I came to the last pill of my first strip of Yasmin (since last July) yesterday. 21 days of taking something I've fought against for almost a year. If you're a regular reader, you'll know that this wasn't an easy decision to make. I came off Yasmin last year after 8 years - bar a 6 month break. I had been relying on it to keep my acne under control primarily.


I made the decision to come off because a) I'm marrying the love of my life and we are eager to start a family soon, b) I was no longer comfortable with the thought of overriding my body's natural state with synthetic hormones and c) I believed Yasmin was responsible for a number of emotional and physical symptoms.

However, like most things in life, there was a complication. This idea I had of having perhaps a few months of acne and irregular cycles before things would settle down and I would be a glowing, earthly vision has actually turned into almost a year of cystic acne, mood swings, 36-45 day long cycles, pain in my ovaries... and a moustache.

Two months ago, a scan revealed I had enlarged ovaries with multiple cysts on both sides and blood tests on my hormone levels showed results consistent with a PCOS diagnosis. There's no definite way to diagnose PCOS it seems. Doctors look at the symptoms and results to come to a conclusion. In any case, unless you are overweight, they don't seem to be able to help with the symptoms in any way other than prescribing the pill. If I hit any difficulties when we start to try to conceive, that's when they can intervene and I would be fast tracked to a fertility specialist because of my diagnosis. Crossing my fingers it won't come to that.

I intend to stop taking Yasmin in December. I feel incredibly vain admitting that the only reason I have gone back to something that I feel so strongly against is because I'm getting married. If time was on my side (we get married in two months), I would have been more inclined to try alternative medicines and therapies to manage the PCOS symptoms, instead of taking the easy option. Now I know what's causing the acne, I felt better equipped to seek the right "natural" treatment.

Women with PCOS are often low in progesterone which can cause a range of symptoms including;
Mood changes - anxiousness, irritability, irrational fears
Depression
Low sex drive
Menstrual problems such as irregularity or heavy bleeding
Fatigue
Weight gain, especially around the middle section
PCOS (and it's accompanying symptoms)
Migraines/headaches.
I've looked into supplementing with bio-identical progesterone cream and this will be one of the first things I try when I stop Yasmin in efforts to raise my progesterone naturally. The idea is that eventually, your body will start producing the "correct" amount and the cream can be discontinued. Maybe it can work like a jump start? I need to do further reading on the subject, but I wonder if by suppressing my hormones with the pill since I was 14, they never had a chance to establish a rhythm and my body has stopped making them (or making them in a harmonious balance) which has led to my symptoms since coming off the pill. It would also explain why it takes many women a long time to ovulate and for their periods to resume after stopping the pill. I don't think it's totally irrational to think this way - there's logic to my theory. Remember that I'm just clumsily footing my way through this nightmare with only my own experience to go on. It's just some food for thought...

Anyway, as I said, I just reached the end of the first packet. I've noticed (as have my fiancé and friends) definite mood changes. Yes, correlation doesn't imply causation, but it's pretty clear that I have taken a dip over the last few weeks. I'm short tempered, sensitive and worrying about things that haven't been on my radar. I've been feeling really anxious and unable to cope  a lot of the time. My boobs are really sore and they're looking like they've grown a cup size - not comfortable! I've also had constant bleeding (breakthrough bleeding). I hope everything will calm down somewhat now I'm almost through the first month. My skin seems to have improved mildly and isn't breaking out as severely, but it's too soon to say. I'm thinking forward now about how I can help fade the marks and redness left behind. Thankfully, I don't seem to have any craters or 'pitting', it's just pigmentation.

That's where I'm at right now. I feel sheepish to admit I've gone back to Yasmin, I'm not at ease with the decision, but I have my reasons. I'm going to keep track of any physical/emotional changes and will keep blogging about the experience. Have you managed PCOS symptoms without using the pill? Managed to conceive without difficulty with a PCOS diagnosis? Please feel free to share your experience, I love the discussions this blog opens up. Thanks for reading!




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7 comments

  1. I honestly feel for you. I came off the pill for same reason, the oddness of not knowing your own body and only knowing what the pill makes it do, and as you know I also suffer horribly with acne and have done so for 10 years. This must have been such a hard decision for you to make, and I sincerely hope you feel better about it soon. It's so unfortunate, but if it helps then sick with it, even for a little while.
    I'm not sure if you would be interested as it isn't natural, but I recently got a skin peel (less scary than it sounds) for the first time, and my skin has never been better. You usually need a couple, especially in our case, but I've only had one so far and the difference is outstanding. I got a superficial, really mild one made up of mostly salicylic. I had minimal peeling, just on my jaw and forehead, but the results are insane. It lifted almost all my pigmentation and redness, congestion and I currently have like 3 spots as apposed to a face full of them. Just in case you're interested, even just for the wedding :) x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Niamh. I just keep telling myself it's temporary. I'm determined to get to grips with this and manage the symptoms my way.

      I've actually been thinking about a peel pre-wedding. What was the one/type you had - does it have a name? There's so many and I'm afraid of getting one that's too harsh - I don't want to look like a lizard! I'm really pleased that you've had some good results, I know how much you have suffered! x

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    2. Hi Katie, I came across this blog a while back and have been meaning to write. I too have PCOS and had to fight a real battle with my doctor to see a consultant because I wasn't 'overweight enough' Once I had the diagnosis about 9 years ago (I'm 29) I had a wave of relief. Only to realise that this was where it ended. There was nothing they could do- other than recommend I continue to take Yasmin. I was also told it was severe during my internal scan and that 'you never know, you may have children with IVF.' I have attempted to come off the pill for varying amounts of time since my diagnosis, but the horrendous mood swings and the terrible skin always have me going back. Please try not to beat yourself up over it- as frustrating as it is. I sometimes have to remind myself that for the time being Yasmin is the lesser of two evils. Oh- and I got pregnant whilst taking it nearly 2 years ago which I have attributed to the Low Glycemic index diet.

      Take care x

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  2. Hello Katie, when I was 18 I went on the pill to stop me from falling pregnant, but stupidly, being young I didn't even think about it, I had never had a period before then. I had always been told because I was so underweight that it can effect your periods so I just thought I was "lucky" to not have them, and so my friends told me; Until you turn 21, meet the love of your life, get a mortgage after six months, get engaged after a year of being together, decide you'd like to start a family, stop taking the pill for a year, and still have no periods. I've been in and out of the hospital over the last year, and it's been an absolute whirlwind of emotions. After going to the doctors on three occasions and being fobbed off and told its "my weight" (I'm 5'2 and I weigh 7.5stone, pretty average for my height!), and being told its because I'd come off the pill after being on it for so long and that this was "normal", I just wasn't convinced. I know my body better than anyone, and despite telling them that I'd never had a period before going on the pill they were still, mind my French, A*seholes!! Also, them being men, I don't think helped. I finally saw a female doctor, who was really lovely, and sent me for blood tests and a scan, which revealed that my ovaries are enlarged and I have cysts covering them both so instantly diagnosed with PCOS. I then was sent to a specialist who was baffled! She genuinely couldn't believe that I have PCOS because of my weight, I have no excess hair at all, and just generally didn't fit the criteria of someone with PCOS. I then broke down, I'm not the most optimistic person in the world, so I was constantly worrying and crying thinking "what if the cysts are cancerous", "what if I can't ever have children". There is nothing I want more in the world than to be able to carry my own child. They done tests for Turners disease, to see if there was something wrong with my adrenal glands and lots of other stuff that I can't quite remember because there was so much! Up until today (ive literally just gotten back from the hospital and thought of you) I've been panicking and worried about what it could be, to go back, and be told it actually could be PCOS (again). I've had another blood test done to check my hormones again, and got to go back in another three months. My head is just all over the place again, I know that they can do a lot for people that have it and want to have children but because I'm not even having periods I'm worried I'm going to have to have IVF. I know she's going to be sending me a prescription to make me have my period, but if I don't come on after that I just have no idea what I'm going to do. This isn't a question as such, a bit more of a rant but I just felt like I could speak to someone that's going through the same thing as me, rather than talking to my friends and fiancée that tell me "it's all going to be ok", "it's nothing to worry about". Well ACTUALLY, I'm petrified! And nobody seems to understand this and it's infuriating. I'm secretly waiting for the day you announce you're pregnant and you'll write a blog post about what you went through so I can understand it a little more when all of my tests are over. This probably makes absolutely no sense at all, and I hope you don't mind me ranting to you. Thank you anyway! I'm glad I've come across a blog like yours, and so you know of any others where they talk about PCOS?

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  3. Firstly ive never been on the pill but I found out 2 years ago I had pcos due to consistant bleeding for literally 5 to 6 months straight. Then I started working again which meant I was walking for about 11 hours a days and my periods were back to "normal" I had 2 periods and then a cyst on my ovaries burst which put me in hospital. The drs thought it was an ectopic pregnancy they were operating to remove but my hormone levels kept increasing so I got a scan to check if I was pregnant and I was a few weeks along. My daughter is now 8 months old. I honestly never thought I'd get pregnant so easily with my Dr telling me I'd need fertility treatment. Post pregnancy though I had a couple normal periods then a few months without anything and now just random bleeding that just crops up when it feels like it which is very annoying.

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  4. Hi I just came across your blog and it's great to see someone writing so openly about PCOS and the fears a possible diagnosis brings. I was diagnosed back in 2005 after coming off the pill and not having any periods for about a year. I found it really frustrating how vague doctors were about treatment and the possibility of having trouble conceiving and I found this let me convince myself I wasn't going to be able to have children. I took the pill to control my acne but wasn't overly regimented with it and actually got pregnant while still taking it (albeit irregularly!!). My daughter is nearly 3 and I did have at least a year of crazy hormone imbalance that made me struggle to lose the baby weight and gave me quite a bit of rage. I tried the implant but that only contributed to the crazy so tried to go back on the pill but was told I was no longer allowed it due to a history of migraines so finally settled on the Mirena Coil. After a year my skin is the clearest it has ever been, I'm back down to prebaby weight, I don't have to remember to take the pill and I feel my old calm self again.
    I did feel like I was just left to my own devices after diagnosis but the more people you talk to with PCOS the more you find who have had no issues conceiving. Do not fear and good luck!

    Rebecca

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  5. Hi I just came across your blog and it's great to see someone writing so openly about PCOS and the fears a possible diagnosis brings. I was diagnosed back in 2005 after coming off the pill and not having any periods for about a year. I found it really frustrating how vague doctors were about treatment and the possibility of having trouble conceiving and I found this let me convince myself I wasn't going to be able to have children. I took the pill to control my acne but wasn't overly regimented with it and actually got pregnant while still taking it (albeit irregularly!!). My daughter is nearly 3 and I did have at least a year of crazy hormone imbalance that made me struggle to lose the baby weight and gave me quite a bit of rage. I tried the implant but that only contributed to the crazy so tried to go back on the pill but was told I was no longer allowed it due to a history of migraines so finally settled on the Mirena Coil. After a year my skin is the clearest it has ever been, I'm back down to prebaby weight, I don't have to remember to take the pill and I feel my old calm self again.
    I did feel like I was just left to my own devices after diagnosis but the more people you talk to with PCOS the more you find who have had no issues conceiving. Do not fear and good luck!

    Rebecca

    ReplyDelete

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